Knee Injury and Pain in Yoga
By Niki Vetten
Knee injury in yoga usually involves tearing the Meniscus, a double ring of cartilage between the Femur (thighbone) and the Tibia (lower leg bone) – either through carelessness – by practicing asanas with the feet and the knees pointing in different directions, or in Padmasana. It is also possible to overstretch the supporting ligaments at the sides of the knees. People also experience pain behind the knee, on the outer side of the knee, on the inner side below the knee or around the Patella (kneecap) itself.
Knee pain should never be ignored, in the hope that it will go away – the causes need to be investigated and dealt with before attempting any asanas that are painful. It is also highly risky to practice when there is swelling around the knees because swelling inhibits stabilisation by the muscles attached to the Patella and can lead to injury. Students and teachers should take care to avoid this kind of injury because the majority of Meniscus tears require surgery and rarely heal by themselves because the blood supply to cartilage is very limited. Knee problems are complex because some kinds of knee pain comes from an actual injury to knee structures like the meniscus or ligaments, but most other knee pain is caused by instability of the hips, which can cause structural damage in the knee.
The Gluteus Medius is the main stabiliser of the pelvis and if it is weak the pelvis tilts to the side when standing on one leg, while the knee tends to sway inwards when it is bent, putting pressure on knee structures. Hip muscle imbalances also creates rotational stress which can cause injury in Padmasana. This is explained in more detail in Knees and Padmasana
The relationship between the hips and the knees is explained in more detail in How Hip Problems Cause Knee Pain and for more information on the Gluteus Medius, please read Lateral Pelvic Tilt in Yoga Practice
Another source of knee pain are the Quadricep muscles, this pain occurs mostly around the kneecap and in asanas like Virasana and is detailed in Pain at the Kneecap
Reading sources: Ellenbecker, De Carlo, DeRosa, 2009, Effective Functional Progressions in Sport Rehabilitation Sports Injury Bulletin: Meniscal Tears Sports Injury Bulletin: Knee Rehabilitation Sports Injury Bulletin: Popliteus
Author: Niki Vetten
Visit Niki’s Website: Yoga Anatomy for the Perplexed
Here are some of the other articles posted here by Nikki Vetten:
- Hip and Hamstring Flexibility March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten Hamstrings and hips get a lot of stretching in yoga, because everyone wants to do Hanumanasana, and also get their feet behind their heads, preferably both feet at the same time. For many, this will never happen, precisely because they try so hard and focus only on one set of muscles without understanding ...
- Nerve compression in the neck, shoulders and wrists from yoga practice May 16, 2013 By Niki Vetten It is quite common for yogis, particularly women, to develop wrist pain and numbness or tingling in the whole hand or individual fingers, either when they are doing arm balances or Chaturanga or at night if they sleep with arms raised above the head although these sensations subside if the arm is placed ...
- Sacroiliac Joints and Yoga March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten Sacroiliac problems are common in yoga – Chiropractors consider the Sacroiliac joint to be the most common cause of lower back pain, more prevalent than disc problems. The Sacroiliac joint is believed to act as a shock absorber between the legs and the spine and although its movements are very small, restrictions at ...
- Movement Habits and their Effect on Yoga Practice March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten There are three particular movement habits in asana practice that either cause or indicate problems with the hips: These will be covered in detail in separate posts, to keep posts shorter 1. Allowing the hip to push out to the side and not maintaining a level pelvis in the horizontal plane – lateral pelvic ...
- Wrist Pain from Vinyasa Yoga March 10, 2013 By Niki Vetten Vinyasa, arm balances and handstands often leave yoga practitioners complaining of wrist pain, especially at the Ulnar side of the hand, that is, the base of the palm furthest from the thumb. To combat this, the focus is on various hand positions, pushing down with the base of the thumb, rising up onto ...